METHOD

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METHOD ; a convenient arrangement of things, proceedings, or ideas; in logic and rhetoric, the art or rule of disposing ideas in such a manner that they may be easily comprehended, either in order to discover the truth, or to demonstrate it to others. Method is essential to science, and gives to our knowledge its scientific character. Scientific authors make use of different methods, according to the object which they have in view. The apparently strictest is the mathematical, which is capable of giving the greatest possible clearness to its theorems by a series of explanations and deductions ; but it ought to be observed that this method is only adapted to a science which has to do with numbers and magnitudes, and has had unfortunate consequences when nothing was considered true but what could be mathematically proved, and w7hen the mathematical method was applied to intellectual philosophy. Methods have made epochs in philosophy proceeding from the spirit of the systems to which they were applied. Thus there are the sceptic method (see Scepticism)^ the critical method (see Kant), and the dogmatic method, which, in philosophy, is the method that starts from acknowledged general principles,all of which are hnuVed and partial. The truly philosophical method is determined by the nature of the science. As to the way of proceeding, the method may be analytical (i. e. it starts from particular cases, and seeks from them to deduce general causes) or synthetic (i. e. it infers the consequences from the causes); but it must always proceed from elementary principles admitted by all, wiih logical strictness, in order to remain scientific. The popular method starts from the well known and the individual, and is generally analytical. Orators, both lay and clerical, and teachers of youth, make use of this less scientific method. As to external form, the teacher may speak uninterruptedly (this is adapted for adults and academical lectures), or proceed by way of interrogation. In those branches the elements of which lie in the operations of the human reason, as in morals, mathematics and religion, the catechetical method will oe found best, because it addresses the reason or heart of the pupil directly, and by Questions calls into action die powers of As understanding. The catechetic method deserves the name of Socratic only when the teacher limits himself to directing, by his questions, the course of the pupil's thoughts, but allows the conclusions to be formed by the operation of the scholar's own mind. Every art and science requires its own method of teaching, which, indeed, should be accommodated to the individual characters of the teacher and pupil. In order to teach the first elements to many pupils, Lancaster's method will be always found useful. (See Mutual Instruction.) Pestalozzi strives, in his method,whatever the branch of instruction may be, always to keep in view the elevation of the whole being, the strengthening of all the powers, and, as far as possible, to make the pupil's own powers cooperate in the work of instruction. (See Pestalozzi.) A mistaken benevolence has at times undertaken to make all study amusing, and to beguile the" pupil into knowledge without the necessity of laborious exertion on his part. Such a method, however, tends to prevent the developementof the faculties, and to unfit the mind to cope with difficulties. Private instruction requires different methods from public instruction; in fact, circumstances will constantly vary the methods of a skilful teacher.